I applied mahogany veneers to the last of the V-berth cabinet panels, so the next step was to spray them with ICA base coat clear and finish the dry-fit.
Cutting out the hatch panel from the cabinet interior base
This little MasterMind 800344 3-Inch Circular Plunge Saw is great for cutting cabinet door openings. The kerf is 1/16″, which makes for fairly tight-fitting hatches and doors, and it plunges to cut 3/4″ plywood. The dust collection is the best I’ve ever seen–absolutely no dust gets out. The reason the dust collection is so good is that the blade is almost entirely enclosed. The down-side to that is that you can’t see where you’re cutting. The solution is to make a test plunge part-way into a piece of scrap 1/4″ ply, then use that as a jig to set the track against which you run the saw to make the cut. I also put marks on the saw base to indicate where the kerf begins and ends when you make the plunge. It’s pretty slick.
Cabinet interior panels look good
I really like the look of that rotary cut mahogany plywood.
Rotary cut vs quartersawn mahogany veneer
I had to remove material from the back of the porthole surround panel
The 1/4″ Douglas fir marine plywood that I used for the porthole surround panel is thicker than the 1/4″ cabinet-grade mahogany plywood I used in the V-berth. The Doug fir panel got even thicker when I put the mahogany veneer on, resulting in a pretty big step from one panel to the next. I could use a molding to hide the joint, and I still may. But I wanted to get the two panels at least appearing to be the same height. So I used my Bosch router to remove material from the back of the porthole surround panel where it meets the mahogany backing cleat. That brings the two panels into nearly perfect alignment.
I used a hand plane to finish the beveled edge of the cabinet face panel
Nice and flat bevel from the cleat to the veneer
Once all of the edges were done, I sanded the veneer faces with 240 grit Mirka Abranet sandpaper and sent them to my painter for coating. They came back looking very nice.
Cabinet interior panel with hatch panel removed
That hatch panel will give me access to the welded-in thru-hull for the V-berth AC raw water outlet.
Cabinet bottom panel with the hatch panel in place
You can barely tell that there’s a hatch cut in that panel. That’s what I really like about the tiny kerf from the MasterMind plunge saw.
This is fitting together pretty well
Once I’m done dry-fitting and glue all of these panel edges together with epoxy, I can’t be fumbling around putting panels in place, then removing them because I got the order wrong. The porthole surround panel makes a big photographic impression, but from a practical standpoint it’ll be the last panel to go in when I do the final installation.
Cabinet top to porthole surround panel fit is amazingly tight
To be perfectly honest, I have no idea how I got that fit so tight. You couldn’t insert the tiniest edge of a razor blade between those two panels, and that’s just pushed together, with no epoxy gluing the joint yet! I’m completely mystified as to how I did it! I’m not complaining, mind you…but it’s still a mystery.
The top panel to the ‘desk-like structure’ is loosely placed
Not too bad, if I do say so myself!
To preempt a question I’ve gotten several times before, all exposed plywood edges will eventually be covered with solid mahogany moldings of some sort or maybe edge banding. Cabinet top panels will have fiddles, which are moldings that stick up above the surface of the panel to keep things from sliding off in rough seas.
I’ll also say again that, with the last panels dry-fitted and the full impact of the ribbon-striped mahogany in full view, I think it’s too…consistently stripey, if you get my meaning. Especially when compared to the more irregular grain of the rotary cut mahogany I’m using for the rest of the boat (and the interior cabinets in the V-berth). Now, if we were talking about older ribbon-stripe veneers, where the stripes are wider and the logs they were cut from were of greater diameter…those win, hands-down, every time. But, alas, they’re not making mahogany veneer and plywood anymore like what Chris Craft was using back in the day.
Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Final Installation of the Last V-berth Cabinet